Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Settlement Results in Agreement to Pay $100M by Diocese of Syracuse

Settlement comes after the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse filed for bankruptcy in 2020, as a growing number of clergy child sexual abuse lawsuits were filed, which had once been time-barred by the New York statute of limitation.

The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, New York, will pay $100 million as part of a settlement to resolve hundreds of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits brought by parishioners, many of whom were children when they were assaulted or molested by priests or other members of the church.

The proposed agreement calls for the creation of a victim’s trust fund, of which the Diocese will provide $50 million, and individual parishes will contribute another $45 million, with the remaining $5 million coming from other entities within the organization.

The Catholic clergy sexual abuse settlement was announced in a joint July 27 press release issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and a group representing sexual abuse survivors, called the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which came into existence after the Diocese filed for bankruptcy three years ago.

The fund will be used to compensate survivors of sexual abuse acts conducted by clergy, diocese employees and volunteers. The settlement agreement must still be approved by a creditor vote and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of New York, and is part of the Syracuse Diocese’s plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“This settlement is a significant step forward in the healing process for over 400 victims in this case,” Dr. Kevin Braney, Chair of the Official Committee, said in the press release. “I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my fellow survivors and their families, for their endurance as they have patiently awaited this news.”

Once Time-Barred Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Being Allowed by States

New York is one of a growing number of states nationwide that have recently passed laws to temporarily or permanently set aside statute of limitation laws for survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue lawsuits against their abusers and the organizations that enabled the conduct.

After a two year window in the New York child sex abuse statute of limitations was opened in 2020, tens of thousands of claims were brought against the Boy Scouts, Catholic Church and other entitles throughout the state. That was the same year the Syracuse Diocese filed for bankruptcy protections.

While child sexual abuse statute of limitations laws have also been enacted in a number of other states, including New Jersey, California and Louisiana, other states are still debating whether to pass similar legislation, since prior deadlines required many claims to be filed before the full breadth and scope of the clergy sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church were understood.

Earlier this year, Maryland passed a new law completely abolishing the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits, following the release of a similar report in that state. The Catholic dioceses of Maryland are expected to challenge the constitutionality of the law in state court, but hundreds of survivors are already coming forward to pursue claims and hold the church and leadership accountable for decades of covering up credible claims.


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